Assorted links

by on March 20, 2012 at 7:22 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Scott on lunch at China Star.

2. Aristide update, the bottom line, worth a read.

3. High school graduation rate is showing progress.

4. Europe puts solar energy on standby, that was the headline in the print version of the story.

5. The marmite crisis in New Zealand.

6. How Ken Regan detects cheating in chess.

Andrew' March 20, 2012 at 8:38 am

4. Solar will be great when the cost is almost zero. That’s not sarcasm. Doing it right now is shoving 10 pounds of stuff in the proverbial 5 pound sack.

Andrew' March 20, 2012 at 11:09 am

Btw, the article makes it sound like the subsidy is going to Chinese manufacturers. Are they doing the subsidy for the environment?

revver March 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm

So much for the famous German efficiency.

So Much For Subtlety March 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm

And when will the cost be almost zero? Solar will get cheaper but by definition it will never get close to zero. It is not like hydro-electricity where you build a massively expensive asset, but once you have paid that off, you have cheap power for at least a hundred years. It is not even like nuclear where if you build your mildly expensive reactor right, once you have paid that off, you have cheap power for 50 or 60 years. Cells need replacing. They need cleaning. Their manufacturing costs will come down, but those costs will remain.

Ronald Brak March 20, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I think you’ll find the marginal cost of solar PV is much lower than that of nuclear.

Also, I don’t know anywhere that cleans solar panels. Maybe in some low wage countries they do, but here at least it’s not worth the effort. We just let the rain take care of it.

Scoop March 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

#2 I read “Aristotle” update, which would have been interesting.

Ryan Cousineau March 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Aristotle is still dead.

KLO March 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

The high school graduation rate is highly subject to gaming. There is no consistent way that schools and school systems measure the graduation rate, no auditing, and lots of pressure to increase it. Never believe the figures you see. They are a fairy tale.

Rahul March 21, 2012 at 2:26 am

Do US high schools actually ever fail students? i.e. does one ever have to repeat a high school year?

Rahul March 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

#6

Isn’t it easier to prevent chess cheating than detect it later? Why can’t they secure the toilet against a smuggled computer. Why allow players to have cellphones during tournaments.

Dan Weber March 20, 2012 at 11:44 am

If my friends are watching, they can secretly pass the board to a computer, get the results, and then signal me with a series of coughs and sniffles as to what I’m supposed to do.

Someone did this on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Well, the signalling part, at least.

Kenneth W. Regan March 21, 2012 at 1:15 am

Indeed, an excellent similar point is made recently here.

Dave Barnes March 20, 2012 at 10:45 am

“Europe puts solar energy on standby, that was the headline in the print version of the story.”
SEO at work. Nothing to see here.
The print headline is designed to get you to read the article after you have arrived at the paper page.
The online headline is designed to rank high in SERPs.

mobile March 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

I have much more sympathy for the New Zealanders than for the Norwegians.

Rahul March 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm

One way glass walls? What’s the economics of chess tournaments; is it important to keep on-site spectators happy? I doubt it.

Anthony March 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Given that even a high-school diploma is a form of signaling, more so than a certification of a certain level of knowledge and skills, the question is whether the gains in graduation rate are coming at the cost of (further) dilution of the quality of the signal.

Ronald Brak March 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

4. It is interesting that roof top solar now apparently averages $2,710 per peak kilowatt in Germany. I don’t see why we can’t install solar PV for the same price in Australia, after all, they’re both high wage countries. At that price point of use solar is definitely at grid parity and in many places would be the cheapest option. I imagine the situation would be similar in Hawaii.

Andrew' March 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I think it’s crazy that everyone doesn’t use passive solar, and yet I still don’t.

Ryan Cousineau March 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm

In sufficiently sunny locales, everyone does use passive solar. In the parts of Greece where I hang out, virtually every house has a black panel and a water tank on the roof for the hot water supply.

Steko March 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I wonder if there’s a paradox where waiting actually saves you more because of scale and efficiency improvements.

If a panel lasts for 20 years then 1 year of no savings and 19 years of 5.3% better savings is better.

Ok, so let’s look for a chart, Kevin Drum directs me to Ramez Naam[1]:
“The trend is for an annual 7 percent reduction in the dollars per watt of solar photovoltaic cells.”

So there you go. It’s always better to wait a year because solar has been a new, small scale, and relatively inefficient technology.

[1] http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/03/16/smaller-cheaper-faster-does-moores-law-apply-to-solar-cells/

tkehler March 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Final line of the Marmageddon story: “Deconstruction of the tower was proceeding well, he said.”

I know it is a story about an apocalyptic event (the shortage of marmite), but why must French apocalyptic language be employed?

Pete in NZ March 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm

“Truly, nothing happens in my home country.”
ROFL

What no-one here points out is that Sanitarium is not a company but a tax-free entity set up by the 7th Day Adventist church.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanitarium_Health_Food_Company
Essentially sales are donations to the church…

Australian company Kraft makes Vegemite and there is an English Marmite (the original, I think) so there’s no real shortage.
The taste is pretty much the same. This is starting to look like a corporate PR beat-up to keep the brand in the spotlight but that is only conjecture.

Seamus Hogan March 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm

“The taste is pretty much the same”. Pete in NZ: You must know that down here thems are fighting words!

So Much For Subtlety March 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm

“Aristide explained that it was an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine and that he used it for his research. He had a PhD in African languages from the University of South Africa – his dissertation posited a ‘psycho-theological’ kinship between Zulu and Haitian Creole ”

All is not well in the world of South African academia. My first thought is the mildly racist one that this is the result of majority Black rule – you know, the old cliche of Africa returning to the Bush by rejecting Western modernity. But then, on further reflection, I doubt Western universities are immune from this sort of crap these days.

A prize for anyone who can explain to me what a “psycho-theological kinship” is.

Linda Seebach March 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I sent that sentence to a friend who hosts a linguistics blog. All he said was “Wow,” and I don’t think it indicated approval. Linguistics departments are fairly immune to crap, in general, though the exceptions get better press coverage.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: